Emergency Rooms and Substitute Teachers

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Well, another weekend has arrived. This is one of those weekends where I have absolutely no idea what the plan is. I know what I’m NOT going to do, sure. I guess I’ll use this weekend to chill, relax, and recover from the week. And YESTERDAY.

Yesterday I woke up with the same cough and stuffy nose I’ve had for about 4 months now. I also had a very bad pain in my left back gum, right around my back tooth. I’d been having some discomfort there for a day or two, but nothing big. I thought I just might have eaten a tortilla chip funny or something.


Well, another weekend has arrived. This is one of those weekends where I have absolutely no idea what the plan is. I know what I’m NOT going to do, sure. I guess I’ll use this weekend to chill, relax, and recover from the week. And YESTERDAY.

Yesterday I woke up with the same cough and stuffy nose I’ve had for about 4 months now. I also had a very bad pain in my left back gum, right around my back tooth. I’d been having some discomfort there for a day or two, but nothing big. I thought I just might have eaten a tortilla chip funny or something.

This morning though, the pain was a little more intense. I checked it out, and didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. No swelling, no uber redness. I just made sure to brush gently and rinse a couple of times with extra strong mouthwash. The pain subsided for about 10 minutes.

By the time I was at work my mouth was REALLY hurting. I couldn’t even chew on that side. You never know how difficult it is to eat ONLY on one side of your mouth until you can’t use the other side for whatever reasons (dentist numbed you, got a tooth pulled out, soreness, etc.)

I had two classes in the morning, and after about an hour my throat was starting to hurt too. My thoughts were WHY?! WHY?! WHY?!

My guess is my lymph nodes were swelling up to fight whatever it was that was going on with my gum. But it was hurting enough that I had a hard time speaking, and I was getting really really irritated.

I had planned on going to the doctor that morning before work, but was hit with some shocking news from back home. I spent some of my morning talking to family, and ran out of time to see the doctor before work.

So, during lunch break I headed out to the doctors office. I got there to find an empty office, no one at the front desk. I called out and finally a nurse came out to greet me with her mouth mostly full of food. I tried not to think so, but that was actually pretty obnoxious. She motioned that the office was closed for lunch.

“Until when?” I asked?

Until 2 was the reply.

Well, That’s a pretty sweet gig. An over 1 hour lunch break at a DOCTORS OFFICE in the middle of everyone else’s lunch time when most people would be making their trip from the office to get something checked out since they close at 5 and no one gets off work until then!

Anyway, I decided to make a trip to the doctors office today. Of course, I had no idea about the mouth thing. I didn’t know whether to see a doctor (because I was pretty sure it was infection), or go to a dentist. I planned to to go both. Dentist first, then the doctor.

For the last few hours of work the pain in my mouth and throat started to worsen and I was so swollen around my back tooth that I couldn’t close my mouth properly. One of my beautiful co-workers had volunteered to take me to the doctor today so that she could help me explain to the doctor EXACTLY what was wrong. Well, I asked her whether or not she thought I should just to a hospital. A few of the other foreign teachers at my school had told me to go.

The reason I was asking my Korean co-workers opinion was because I didn’t want to go by myself!!!! Hospitals are scary. They’re even more scary when you don’t speak the language. Besides. The EMERGENCY ROOM? Don’t people only go to the Emergency room when there is an… I don’t know… EMERGENCY?

I was in pain, but not prepared to enter an emergency room.

Anyway, my Korean co-worker (bless her, she’s so sweet) was really concerned but she didn’t get my hint that I wanted someone to go with me, so I left it alone. I decided that I would just wait until the next day.

However, on the way home another of my new workers (brand new, only 2 weeks in Korea) got in touch with me and said that he would go with me if I felt uncomfortable.

I still wasn’t sure if I was ready to brave a trip to the hospital for mouth pain.

HOWEVER

My mind changed quite quickly when I got home and went to a mirror to check out what was going on back there. The gum was so swollen you almost couldn’t see half of my back tooth. And… here’s the kicker… the gum was turning BLACK! WTH!?

I got myself out of that apartment ASAP, swung by to grab my co-worker out of his apartment and headed to the Emergency room.

MY TRIP TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM

Some of you might be thinking that I’m just a big baby, but that whole gum being black thing really freaked me out. Tissue usually only turns black when it’s dying, right? Yeah, I wasn’t ready for that infection to possibly spread into my blood stream.

My throat was hurting really badly by this point as well. So I was ready to brave a Korean emergency room.

My co-worker and I arrived at the hospital emergency room quickly… since the hospital is literally just right across the street from out apartment building (the lights on the hospital sign shines through my window and sometimes keeps me up at night). There were some patients wandering around the lobby, and a group of middle aged women all talking with each other over a cup of tea in the lounge area.

There was no one at the information desk, and I wasn’t sure if we were allowed to go through the emergency room doors. Luckily my co-worker is braver than I am and he opened the emergency room door and looked around. Saw no one.

Uh… now what?

Anyway, finally one of the baristas helped us out and lead us into the emergency room where some nurses were sitting behind a desk that was out of view from the door.

There were no patience in the emergency room. It was extremely quiet. The doctor finally came out, obviously having just been interrupted in the middle of his dinner. When I told him what was going on and looked at me kind of funny and said…

“Well, as you know we aren’t dentists.”

I felt something inside of me break. Perhaps it was the last thinly woven strand of control that I had left after that ridiculous day. I may have sounded a bit too harsh, I think, when I said “I KNOW that. It’s not my tooth that’s hurting it’s my MOUTH and THROAT.”

He said “Okay okay okay okay, we’ll look.”

At this point, I already feel stupid for coming to an EMERGENCY room for my problem. But it’s not like they were busy.

Anyway, he gave my mouth a look and was like “Ah. I see.”

He went on to tell me that it was an infection (duh). He said that this type of infection was most often caused by STRESS.

He said that with antibiotics and rest it would go away in a day or two.

The blackness of my gum ended up being (prepare for gross out) blood trapped underneath the tissue caused by the infection. It pooled and caused my gum to look very black in that area. Uh, ew.

His prescription ended up being about 40 pills (antibiotics, pain killer, and some pill to help with my digestion, I think.)

I took the first dose last night after eating something, it took about two or three hours but the swelling started to go down and I could finally close my mouth all the way.

I’m hoping too that the antibiotics will help with whatever is going on with my throat, and maybe even help with whatever else is going on that’s kept me coughing for the past 4 months.

THIS MORNING

I woke up this morning, and the pain in my gum was pretty much gone. The swelling had gone down considerably. It’s still very red, and there’s still a black circle on the back of my gum, but it’s no longer painful. However, now my throat is really hurting. Hopefully it’s just my lymph nodes still fighting whatever infection I’ve got. The last thing I need on my plate right now is tonsillitis or strep throat.

I realized something really disturbing last night, too. When I first started using my AC, I found black mold in the vents. I cleaned it out myself and double checked and thought that I’d gotten all of it out… but I just started thinking that there might be more there than what I can see or reach. That could very possibly be the reason for my coughing/sinus problems. Or maybe it’s the city air, I don’t know. But man… COME ON.

WHY I’M SUPER IRRITATED

Yesterday I was in quite a bit of pain. I couldn’t speak well and I couldn’t eat or even drink a beverage without it hurting. I had 9 classes yesterday, luckily it was test week so it wasn’t necessary for me to do a lesson. I tried playing review games with my first two afternoon classes but it required too much talking, so I ended up just giving everyone puzzles when tests were done.

Back in the states I would have called in to use one of my sick days. Unfortunately my current school doesn’t have a system of substitute teachers. They don’t have ANY WAY of covering classes if one of the teachers is sick.

What does that mean? It means that asking for a sick day is like trying to get permission to set the building on fire.

My poor co-workers have been sick too lately. No one’s able to get a day off to stay home without someone having a fit about it.

It’s not just my school that’s like that though. I’ve heard from a lot of people that most private institutions are structured that way. I guess there aren’t enough substitute teachers to go around.

ANYWAY

That’s enough of that. Aside from the cough, weird sinuses, and sore throat, I am feeling better (no sarcasm there. I really am feeling much better). I haven’t had a fever at all, which means that my body hasn’t yet had to go into ‘war’ mode against any illnesses. I hope that is a good sign that whatever it is I have isn’t anything to fuss over.

Well, a good day awaits. Got to finish up some laundry (washing machine is old and slow, takes 1.5 hours to wash a single load of clothes), clean up a bit, and then go see a movie later on this evening.

Anyone seen KNIGHT AND DAY? Heard it’s crap, but have to see it for myself before I can judge.

Everyone have a great weekend!

Stay safe!

Until next time,

~A.



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